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James Ward-Prowse praises 'unbelievable' impact of Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl

James Ward-Prowse praises 'unbelievable' impact of Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl
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The former RB Leipzig coach has overseen three Premier League wins since arriving at St Mary's.

James Ward-Prowse has hailed manager Ralph Hasenhuttl's "unbelievable" impact at Southampton.

Mark Hughes may have staved off relegation last term but this season Saints appeared to be heading only one way, leading the club to sack the Welshman last month.

Highly-rated former RB Leipzig coach Hasenhuttl was swiftly brought in and has hit the ground running, with Southampton winning three Premier League matches since the Austrian arrived – as many as Hughes managed in his eight-month tenure.

Saturday's 2-1 triumph at Leicester was the latest as his side dug deep and defended resolutely to hold on to victory, despite being reduced to 10 men just before half-time when Yan Valery saw red.

The organisation out of possession was particularly striking for a side that had become a byword for defensive disarray, with goalscorer Ward-Prowse noticing a sea change under Hasenhuttl.

"The difference has been unbelievable," the midfielder told Press Association Sport. "We have a clear structure and a plan of what do with and without the ball.

"You can see in the performances and games we've had, there's an idea and a philosophy, and that's grown.

"We've had good and bad results, but the progress is there to be seen and that's the way the club needs to be going.

"We've done quite a lot of video work of the ideas he wants to implement, it's up to us in the short amount of time we've had with him to go and do it.

"He's been impressed with the way we've adapted to his style of play.

"It's good to have a manager who can communicate well with you and tell you what he wants in his team."

Saints still have a long way to go to avoid the drop as they remain just a point above the drop zone, but Ward-Prowse says Hasenhuttl has been just the tonic for the struggling club.

"It was needed," the one-cap England international said. "We had that similar feeling when Mark Hughes came to us at the end of last season.

"You can see the way this manager wants to play, it's exciting for me as a player to be part of it."

Ward-Prowse was conspicuous by his absence from Hasenhuttl's first few selections but has impressed the manager with his versatility and hunger.

Other big names have been told they are not part of the Austrian's plans, though, with Manolo Gabbiadini shifted to Sampdoria and Wesley Hoedt, a favourite of Hughes, told he can move on.

Hasenhuttl has had some joy introducing his high-energy, pressing game, but Ward-Prowse knows the hard work has just begun.

"It's been hard, over Christmas, we haven't been able to train as much – when we have week to week games, we'll be able to do more," he added.

"If we have a full pre-season under him, we'll have that conversation again and I'll say something different.

"We're on the front foot, looking to score quick goals on the counter attack and that's the style we need to be playing."

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl on January 5, 2019
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